Showing posts with label baby. Show all posts
Showing posts with label baby. Show all posts

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Bilingual Baby - Chapter 2

Our language journey continued and, as those of you who have been reading my blog or book would know, it ultimately took us to France. Not to holiday, but to live. Undoubtedly, there was no better way to reinforce the learning and give it some sense. Of course, there were other reasons, yet, again, I cannot tell you exactly the detail or timing of our very first 'let's go and live in France' discussion.

The practicalities of getting there were not easy and not quick, so in the meantime we kept doing what we had started. For those of you who are doing the same thing, or interested in trying - here is another snippet of our (one-sided) early conversations.

On se lave? Bathtime ?

  • Qui sait qui va prendre son bain. Le bain est prêt. Viens mon coeur. D’abord on se déshabille.
  • On enlève le pull, le pantalon, les chaussettes, le t-shirt et la couche et voilà, tu es tout(e) nu(e), tout(e) nu(e), tout(e) nu(e).
  • Tu as les mains toutes sales. Un bon bain va te faire du bien.
  • Regarde, maman a mis tous les jouets. On va bien s’amuser. D’abord je te lave. Ne bouge pas comme ça, tu vas glisser.
  • Attends, maman regarde si l’eau n’est pas trop chaude. Oh si! C’est trop chaud. Attends je vais mettre de l’eau froide. Voilà. C’est bon. Je vais te mettre dans l’eau et d’abord on va se laver.
  • Alors, où ai-je mis le savon? Et le gant de toilette?
  • Où sont tes jouets? Tu me montres la balle jaune? Le petit canard? Tu remplis les petits réservoirs? On fait des bulles? Tu veux que je t’arrose avec le petit canard?
  • Allez, on tape dans l’eau. Maman va t’arroser. Et doucement. Tu vas en mettre partout. Petit(e) coquin(e), tu as arrosé maman. Je suis toute mouillée.
  • Regarde maman va faire des bulles. Tu les attrapes.
  • Allez, je vais te laver les cheveux. Un peu de produit/shampooing. On rince, on rince et voilà. Ca ne te fait pas mal aux yeux.
  • Tu es tout(e) propre. Allez, l’eau est froide. On va sortir maintenant.
  • Regarde je vais t’enrouler dans cette bonne serviette bien chaude afin que tu ne prennes pas froid. On fait un petit câlin avant de se mettre en pyjama.
  • Je retire le bouchon. Tu vas voir. L’eau va s’en aller et ... elle est partie. Plus d’eau.
  • Allez, on va dans ta chambre mettre une couche, un pyjama et te sécher les cheveux.
  • Où est-il, le petit séchoir à cheveux?

Jumping back to the present ...

Occasionally, my son forgets that he has always answered me in English and replies absentmindedly to my French, in French. Occasionally, he will search for an English word and get it wrong e.g. listening to me talk about les poireaux (leeks) he will refer to them as celery, or he will mix up an English word ('registrate' rather than register), but this in no way detracts from his fluency and capacity in the two languages.

I admit to not reading to him in French still every night, but when we get the chance, we zig-zag from Le Club des Cinq, through to Les grandes questions des tout-petits, passing by Le journal d'un dégonflé on the way. Always, at Christmas, we count down with our 24 histoires pour attendre Noël.

I don't sing 'Fais dodo' to him at night anymore either, but he knows his (adapted) nighttime song and it is recalled often enough in conversation for me to know that it is special.

If you would like any of the other chapters of language hints to use with your baby (mealtime, dressing etc.) then please don't hesitate to contact me.

Monday, 4 April 2016

Bilingual Baby - First steps

In my last post, I reflected on the twelve-year French-language journey that my son and I have been on (and are still on) and promised to share some of the specifics of this adventure.

I guess at some point, it must have been a conscious decision that my husband and I took, but to be honest, I do not remember the dialogue that went with the decision. I don't remember having a serious discussion, just prior to directing my first French word at my Australian-born son, about the benefits of so-doing. Possibly, neither my husband or I really thought that it would be anything more than a passing phase.

So, knowing only the 'when' (always - hopefully!) but being somewhat vague about the 'why' and 'how', much of what followed initially, could probably be put down to good luck. Soon, though, I recognised that I was totally invested in the process, enjoying it despite the difficulties and challenges, and going down paths that I would never have previously considered, which were exciting and enriching on a personal level.

What did we do?

  • I knew that I did not have enough vocabulary and worked as often and as hard as I could on building the baby vocabulary that I needed.
  • I employed a native French speaker to tutor me and verify that the words and language that I had begun to use were indeed accurate and appropriate. Our household funds were limited, as I was on maternity leave with no second salary coming in, so I had my long list of language questions drawn up and ready before we started each time, and restricted myself to just a handful of lessons.
  • I joined a council-subsidised, local, French-speaking play-group. French was the only language spoken, and all levels of fluency were welcomed. It helped immensely that there was a paid 'leader' who set up activities in French (colouring in, songs, stories) for the children. This was followed by a free-for-all play and morning tea, which gave the children and parents an opportunity to socialise in French.
  • I found a French-speaking pre-school and enrolled my son in the program as soon as I was able (he was 3 yo).
  • I kept on talking. Every moment with my son was an opportunity to tell him how I was feeling (Comme je t'aime. Tu es si beau) or describe what I was seeing or doing (Je te mets dans la poussette. Vois-tu les jolis oiseaux colorés? Penses-tu qu'ils chantent bien? Ah non, voilà mon chapeau qui s'envole...). Of course, there was nothing in return, initially, but this meant that making mistakes, or stopping half-way through a sentence because I was unsure how to finish it, or changing tack to something I did know how to finish, was never a problem. I got used to what I was doing and my son just smiled and did what babies do back at me.
  • I read to my son in French during our play times, but also just before I put him into bed. By that stage we would already have gone through our dinner and bath routine. Then, when he was old enough, we would sit on the floor in his room and I would read aloud to him. It was a moment of pleasure for both of us and one that I shared reluctantly! When he was capable of so-doing, he would turn the pages and interact with the book, pointing to objects that I asked him to show me, giving me the words to finish sentences or well-known rhymes, clapping and reacting as per the book's instructions.
  • For his day-time sleep, I would often also put on, very softly, a CD of French lullabies or rhymes for him to listen to as he was falling asleep.
  • I bought French stories on CDs to listen to in the car, which helped reinforce my language as much as giving my son (and by default my older daughters) the enjoyment of the sounds.
  • I kept a pen and paper on me whenever possible to write down the things that I wanted to look up or ask about. (This is 12 years ago after all! Using the Notes function on your mobile would be just as good). 

  • I drew up pages of sentences (cheat sheets) relevant to each of the stages of my son's day, listed as chapters. Of course, they are just a sample of all the possible language - but I needed to start somewhere.
I'd love to know what you think.

Here is my Chapter 1


Pour un garçon :-
Bonjour mon chéri.
Coucou mon chéri/mon loulou/mon canard/mon lapin/ma puce ...
Tu dors ou t’es réveillé?
Coucou. Je te vois. Je suis là. C’est maman.
Maman est contente de te voir. Je t’aime mon petit chéri.
Tu viens. On va faire un petit câlin.
Tu es tout mouillé. On va te changer.
On ouvre les rideaux. Est-ce qu’il fait beau? Bonjour le jardin!
Allez! Allez! Tu dois avoir faim mon petit chéri. On va aller manger?
Allez! On va s’installer. Je vais te donner le/ton biberon? C’est ça que tu attendais?
S’il pleure
Tu pleures? Qu’est-ce qu’il y a? Tu as faim? Tu es mouillé? Je suis là. Pendant toute la nuit on était séparés.
Pour une fille
Bonjour ma chérie. Coucou ma chérie/ma louloutte/mon canard/mon lapin ...
Tu dors ou t’es réveillée?
Coucou. Je te vois. Je suis là. C’est maman.
Maman est contente de te voir. Je t’aime ma petite chérie.
Tu viens. On va faire un petit câlin.
Tu es toute mouillée. On va te changer.
On ouvre les rideaux. Est-ce qu’il fait beau? Bonjour le jardin!
Allez! Allez! Tu dois avoir faim ma petite chérie. On va aller manger?
Allez! On va s’installer. Je vais te donner le/ton biberon? C’est ça que tu attendais?
Si elle pleure
Tu pleures? Qu’est-ce qu’il y a? Tu as faim? Tu es mouillée? Je suis là. Pendant toute la nuit on était séparées.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

What have I learnt from the past 12 years speaking French to my son?

Let me go back a bit ...

I was born in Australia to English-speaking parents and did not speak a word of French until high school. Fast-forward a few decades, married to an English speaker, I had the, perhaps crazy, idea to only speak French to my son. Ok, in the intervening years, I had fallen in love with the language, majored in French at university, spent a year in France as an English assistant in two French colleges and had been teaching the language to secondary students for, well, longer than I would care to admit.

But, none of that, despite my best efforts, actually made me French. So, why did I even consider that I could do such a thing? Truthfully, I did not, but I gave it a shot anyway.

Lesson 1 - I knew very little to start with, but that did not put me off trying - and it should not put you off either, if you are prepared to work hard and learn along the way.

Lesson 2 - A simple, crazy idea can change your life. e.g. Step 1 - let's see how only speaking French to my son turns out ... Step who-knows-how-many - let's go and live in France! This was definitely a road less travelled (thanks Robert Frost) option for us.

Lesson 3 - I love the well-rounded, global citizens that my children have become. Would this have happened if French and France had not become part of our family make-up? Possibly not. At least not as quickly.

Lesson 4 - In my quest to respond in French to the increasingly complex and philosphical questions posed by my son, I have to keep learning ... every day.

Lesson 5 - My life, and that of my family, has been enriched. Speaking another language does that. It allows a deeper understanding of another culture that would not otherwise have been possible.

Lesson 6 - It has not always been easy.

SO, to answer the questions of those who have contacted me on the subject of bringing up baby bilingually - what exactly did I do?

In the next couple of posts, I will take a look at our language journey so far, including posting the first few pages of what became my cheat sheets of baby language and phrases.

Please do contact me with questions and/or comments. I'd love to hear from you.